Secrets of the Cinque Terre: Updated 2024

The Cinque Terre is one of the most famous and beautiful coasts in all of Italy. Over the years, Maria and I have discovered many of its secrets. On this page, we share those secrets.

"Join us in discovering the Cinque Terre, Italy, at its most seductive!"

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Best Place to Stay on the Cinque Terre Coast?

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🚆 You can find and buy cheap train tickets for your trip in advance here

Base yourself in Levanto; Levanto is a vibrant, charming little town, and the train runs up and down all day from Levanto to all the Cinque Terre towns, taking only a few minutes between each of them.  

In Levanto itself, try to stay at the Oasi Hotel (if you can get in) or the Villa Valentina;  the prices, both for hotels and restaurants, are way better in Levanto than on the rest of the Cinque Terre coast. In Levanto, you get far friendlier service too, as people aren't so overwhelmed by tourists; they still have time to chat, and they enjoy hearing your stories as much as you enjoy hearing theirs.

Nearly forgot, you've one of the loveliest cycle routes in Italy on your doorstep too - here are the details.

Would you prefer accommodation in the Cinque Terre itself? There is not much to choose from; most is horrible and horribly overpriced, but there are some exceptions. A good option is L’Ancora in Riomaggiore.

More expensive, yet wonderful, is the Porto Roca near Monterosso. The photo below is of the hotel's gorgeous swimming pool.

When to Visit the Cinque Terre

Try to plan your visit for May, June, or September to avoid the crowds.

In July and August, the charming atmosphere of these delightful hill towns is completely overshadowed by the swarming tourist masses. This is the case not only on the Cinque Terre, but anywhere in Italy is invariably lovelier outside of July and August.

Cinque Terre Village

Cinque Terre Italy Weather (click for our weather guide)

The weather in Cinque Terre is characterized by a mild Mediterranean climate, offering pleasant conditions for most of the year.

Summers are warm and dry, ideal for exploring the vibrant coastal villages and hiking trails. The heat and crowds can be a little overwhelming during July and August though, make sure that you stay well hydrated, particularly on the walks.

Winters are mild, with occasional rainfall, making it a quieter time to visit. This part of the Ligurian coast is blessed with a very mild climate and the coast’s winter temperatures average around 9 degrees Celsius/48.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

In fact, visiting the Cinque Terre during the winter is not a bad idea at all.

Hardly any tourists visit the Cinque Terre during this time, and you really get to experience the atmosphere of the towns. Take the time to wonder the twisting lanes and join in the gossip in the piazzas; even if you don’t understand much, the passion for life of the local folk is very catching.

We've even spent Christmas in Cinque Terre and enjoyed it immensely. 

Spring and fall boast comfortable temperatures, making them popular seasons for outdoor activities and enjoying the stunning coastal scenery.

Getting Around the Cinque Terre

Get yourself the Cinque Terre Treno MS Card. It costs around 19 euros for the one-day version, which allows you unlimited travel between all of the Cinque Terre towns, plus Levanto and La Spezia. The pass also includes free access to those walks where an entrance fee is required - these are the Monterosso to Vernazza path and the Vernazza to Corniglia one.

Buses are also included in the ticket - very useful in the town of Corniglia where it will save you having to walk the 400 steps up to the town from the station. Simply walk out of the station and the bus stop to Corniglia is right there.

Cinque Terre Beaches

Monterosso BeachMonterosso Beach

The Cinque Terre beaches are mostly stony affairs; Monterosso has the best beach, but the pay sections are rather expensive, and the free bit is not the greatest. Rather, spend time on Northern Italy’s most famous surf beach in nearby Levanto. For more on Levanto's beaches, and other gorgeous beaches in Liguria, click here.

The Sights of the Cinque Terre Italy

Nearly all the towns of the Cinque Terre have a few buildings of historical importance. The most significant of these are:

1) The Church of San Giovanni Battista in Monterosso and a church of the same name in Riomaggiore.

2) The remains of the sixteenth-century castle that dominates Vernazza.

3) The Church of Saint Margaret of Antioch in Vernazza dates back to the thirteenth century.

4) The fourteenth century Church of Saint Pietro in Corniglia.

5) Manarola’s fourteenth century Church of San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence).

Via dell'Amore and other Walks

Please wear proper walking shoes on all walks for your own safety. Fines of up to 2,500 euros are issued in the case of inappropriate footwear.

Most famous is the Via dell’Amore between Riomaggiore and Manarola; this is an easy thirty-minute walk along a paved path.

The Via dell'Amore is the place to go for a romantic time in Italy. Maria and I always feel like we are on honeymoon again as we stroll along. Watch the sunset from here, and before you know it, you'll be singing each other Italian love songs.

Famous and romantic the Via dell’Amore may be but the walks between the other towns are far lovelier. 

For more details on all the walks click here.

Walked between all the towns and still have energy to burn?

Then climb the hills behind the towns. One of the best is the one to the ruins of the sixteenth century tower behind Corniglia - great exercise and, if you make it, the views are spectacular.

Vernazza at Night

The Five Villages

Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso al Mare beach

Monterosso has the best Cinque Terre beach, but it's a crowded place, and you would be much better off on the beach of nearby Levanto.

For the rest, Monterosso is the biggest of the Cinque Terre towns, and although a lovely little town, it's overshadowed by the other four towns. 

It's a great place, though, to start a boat trip along the coast.



A lot of people consider this to be the best Cinque Terre village and It's a wonderful little place, indeed. In my view, it is the second-best town after Manarola, but really, there is not much to choose between them. The old fort, colorful jumbled houses and the little harbor are particular highlights.

Make sure you enjoy the view of Vernazza from the surrounding hills; it has to be one of the most beautiful views in all of Italy.



Perched on a promontory overlooking the Ligurian Sea, Corniglia is set high on a cliff, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the azure waters and rugged coastline.

Traditionally more focused on farming (olives and vineyards), Corniglia is a little different in atmosphere and architecture from the other towns of the Cinque Terre, and the town is renowned for its terraced vineyards that produce exquisite local wines, such as the prized SciacchetrĂ .

Accessible by a scenic uphill walk, the village welcomes you with its charming narrow streets, colorful houses, and relaxed atmosphere. I love the central Piazza Largo Taragio , surrounded by quaint cafes and artisan shops. I could spend an entire afternoon here, and I have often done so in the past, going from lunch all the way to evening aperitivo.

What sets Corniglia apart is its tranquil ambiance, making it an ideal retreat for those seeking a more serene Cinque Terre experience.



I really love Manarola immensely. The multi-hued houses tumble down to the little fishermen's cove, many seemingly ready to roll off into the turquoise sea below.

Framing it all are the terraced hillsides full of olive groves and vineyards, and if you come in spring or summer, there'll be flowers everywhere too.

After Corniglia this is the second-smallest town, yet in my view, it is the loveliest.



The most western of the towns, Riomaggiore, is as unforgettable as the rest of Cinque Terre.

Like Corniglia, this is a farming town, and the vineyards around town produce a white wine called Cinque Terre and, more famously, a Passito wine called SciacchetrĂ . Unfortunately, over the last twenty years, younger generations have abandoned the vineyards, attracted by the lure of easy money from tourism.

Many vineyards around Riomaggiore and the other towns of the Cinque Terre are now in a sad state of neglect, so make sure you get to try a few bottles before these varieties disappear!

If you would like to base yourself in Riomaggiore then the L’Ancora is reasonably priced by Cinque Terre standards and offers decent clean accommodation.

Time Needed for the Cinque Terre

Most visitors will not only visit the Cinque Terre; Italy has hundreds of other great places to visit. Don’t make the mistake, though of visiting for too short a time, a day really is not enough.

Personally, I would suggest a minimum of two days, but three if you have the time. Perhaps one day spent running up and down the Cinque Terre on the train from Levanto, followed by a day walking between the towns, and then the last day at leisure or enjoying a boat trip.


Need a map of Cinque Terre and Levanto? Here is our personalized Cinque Terre Map!

More of this Coast


Just as lovely as the Cinque Terre but as yet undiscovered is Tellaro on the Gulf of Poets - click for details.

A gorgeous cycle path along the old railway line, stunning views and fascinating towns. If you're visiting the 5 Terre don't miss this great experience.

Have You Been to the Cinque Terre?

If you have visited the Cinque Terre? I would love to hear all about it!

What Other Visitors Have Said

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